By BR Tabatha
We've all been there. You're going about your day, things are running smoothly, you're feeling pretty good about the world and then you go to rip open an envelope, or a courier package, or maybe you're straightening up your tights, and you feel this... tug. Or a gut-wrenching flick. Sometimes it's followed by the human equivalent of sticky tape being pulled off its round. Then, if things go really wrong, you feel the searing pain.
You stop what you're doing, bring your hand upwards, and there it is... a snagged nail. A ripped nail. A jagged nail.
And the worst bit is? You're not even surprised, because your nails are prone to breaking, tearing, snapping, pulling back at an angle that nails should NOT pull back at.
So what's a gal to do if she wants to grow strong and long nails? Here's a few tips and tricks we've discovered during our beauty journey...
First things first?
Put the good stuff in your bod and you'll improve your chances of getting good stuff out. Want stronger nails? Think Vitamin H (aka Biotin), Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. You can pop a pill if you're so inclined (always check with a health professional first), or you could eat your way to stronger nails. Think eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy, avocado, citrus fruits, kumara, strawberries, red meat, seafood, chicken, wholegrains, legumes... hold on, we're basically describing the building blocks of a healthy diet. There you have it - eat healthy food. (And again, 'cause we can't say it enough, if you're embarking on a new way of eating chat with a health professional first.)
Once you've got your internals working to keep your externals in tip top condition. Keep your nails, their cuticles and surrounds in excellent condition. This is easy enough to achieve by massaging in a moisturiser, cream or oil onto your cuticles whenever you have a spare moment throughout the day. If you really want to give your hands and nails a treat - slather on product, pop some socks or gloves over your hands and head off to the land of Zzzzz for an intensive overnight treatment.
A fact that's hard to swallow (for me anyway): Your nails should not be doing the hard yakka for you. This means don't use them to scrape sticker glue off packaging, don't use them to rip into anything. Recently I used my nails to pull apart the ring part of my key ring and surely enought there's now a big crack in my nails - don't do that. Instead keep tools on hand to do the hard work for you. Scissors, letter openers, craft knives were invented for a reason.
I blame 80s movies for teaching me how to file my nails wrong. All those cool working women would be sitting at their desks, chewing gum, yacking on the phone, while filing the heck out of their nails back and forth, back and forth. Turns out that's a no-no. When filing file in one direction only, and keep the pressure light.
Say you're doing the dishes or washing windows or household surfaces - protect your nails by popping on some gloves, as detergents can weaken your nails, as can soaking your nails in water for too long.
Washing your hands a lot? You can hardly wear gloves for that! So make a point of moisturising your hands and nails more often if you're regularly soaping up your digits. (Oh, and maybe cut back of hand sanitiser - all the ones I could find in the office and at home were choc-full of alcohol, and that stuff is dryyyyyyyyying.)
Speaking of alcohol... if you're serious about creating strong nails you might want to take a break from polishing and removing polish for a while. Polishes and removers can contain harsh chemicals, which will further dry out your nails, therefore making them more prone to breakage.
So what to do if you do happen to tear your nails? Keep a pair of nail scissors, a file or clippers in your purse so you can deal to the raggedness before it gets worse. If it's really bad and you're at home you can always attempt a repair job using the tea bag method. Check out this tutorial from YouTuber Julia Graaf.
Top three things to remember if you want stronger nails?
1. Eat well.
2. Don't soak them too long.
3. Ironically, don't let them dry out.